Frocks, Rocks and Very Few Knocks

In the run-up to her Diamond Jubilee celebrations, a poll published in UK newspaper The Guardian declared that the Queen is enjoying record public support. According to the British media, the monarchy is riding high at the moment on the back of last year’s royal wedding, buoyed up by a new generation of young royals who open up to the public and press.

With this in mind, Report International analysed recent coverage of the top royals across the world’s media, in particular the media of former colonies, to compare the focus and tone of discussion.

The Queen was the most discussed Royal (31% share of voice), closely followed by the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William. Topics boosting the Queen’s global exposure were Brit-themed events in the UK and abroad, new portrait exhibitions, the Cullinan diamond collection, and diamond-encrusted commemorative coins. Tone of coverage was almost universally favourable. Support was shown in the British media over Queen Sofia’s Gibraltar snub, while Canadian dissent over the monarchy was more aimed at PM Harper’s ‘unabashed’ royalism.

Fashion was a major thread running through coverage for the Duchess of Cambridge, the majority of which was positive. UK and Canadian fashionistas highlighted her approachable ‘ordinariness’, while Australian and US journalists tended to celebrate her ‘glamour’. The Queen was also the subject of numerous articles charting her style through the decades, characterised by ‘discreet glamour’, according to Vogue Australia.

Royal biographer Penny Junor’s account of Prince William caused ripples on both sides of the Atlantic, boosting media sympathy for the Prince. His media profile was highly positive, focusing on his accessibility, citing his breaking of protocol to visit fire victims during last year’s trip to Canada (still being reported), taking an Easyjet flight, and opening up to Katie Couric in an exclusive interview on US ABC television, together with his brother, Harry. Widely reported opinion polls stating the global public’s desire for Prince William to succeed the Queen instead of Prince Charles also bolstered his favourable exposure.

While a lot of media attention for Prince Harry focused on his choices of party venue and girlfriend, there was a notable shift towards reporting of his growing commitment to service and charitable duties. His work with wounded soldiers was particularly lauded in the US media, following his appearance at the Atlantic Council’s annual dinner, leading the UK’s Daily Express to dub him an “all-American hero”.

Sentiment towards Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall was more neutral in tone, especially in the British press. The Canadian media mostly welcomed their visit, but included some dissent regarding taxpayers’ expenses. US outlets, however, seemed amused at the heir to the throne’s attempts at DJing in Canada and reading the weather on Scottish TV. Many quipped, as did the Austin American Statesman, that he would at least have something to fall back on, ‘if this king thing doesn’t work out’.

Ten years on from the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, the media landscape appears very different for the monarchy. By the end of that 50th anniversary year, a series of highly publicised, damaging events culminated in The Guardian’s December headline “Royals in Crisis as Popularity Nose-dives”.

We shall watch with interest to see if the events of the last ten years have brought about a U-turn, as retail figures and economic projections for the Jubilee certainly seem to suggest. With the younger royals trying hard to project an image that is more in touch with the public, we predict that the current wave of media support is unlikely to ebb off (unless there are some skeletons waiting to come out of palace closets).

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